noimageThe US State Department has issued its 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report - and similar to the past two years, Belize remained as a tier 3 country, classified as the worst trafficking offender in Central America.

According to the report - which was released on Monday- “The Government of Belize does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so and therefore remains in Tier 3” and even states several times in the report that "Trafficking-related complicity by government officials is common, including those at high levels."

Looking at the report more closely, Belize is the only Central American Country with a Tier 3 ranking, and joins Haiti and Suriname as the only three Caribbean countries with this dismal ranking. Categorizing Belize as “a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor”

The Report says that to get out of tier three, Belize would have to implement a number of measures, including identifying victims of sex and labor trafficking, and ensuring that trafficking victims are not "re-victimized for crimes committed as a direct result of trafficking."

The report notes that law enforcement did not begin any new trafficking prosecutions in 2016, and only identified 6 persons suspected of being involved in trafficking. The report calls the effort in prosecution, "inadequate." And further notes that Quote, "the government did not investigate or prosecute any public officials for alleged complicity in human trafficking-related offenses, despite reports of a significant level of official complicity."

The report adds that off-duty police officers often provide security for sex trade establishments, "which may have inhibited victims from coming forward and officers from investigating allegations of trafficking in the sex trade- particularly if made against their employers." It notes with displeasure, quote, "Many women and girls, potentially including trafficking victims, were arrested, jailed, or deported for immigration violations."

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